Bellator’s new reality show “Fight Master” on Spike TV premieres Wednesday, June 19. 32 fighters will vie for a spot in the upcoming Bellator welterweight tournament. Here’s a look at the format and the cast.
Video of Team Curran’s Pat Curran vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev at Bellator 95 for the featherweight title.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Pat Curran used the first half of round one in his title fight with Shahbulat Shamhalaev to size up his opponent and find his reach. The second half was all about the attack.
Just moments after Bellator analyst Jimmy Smith said that Curran was known to be a slow starter and uses his wrestling mainly for defense, Curran shot in on Shamhalaev and took him down. Curran first went for his back but switched up into a guillotine choke and dragged Shamhalaev into full guard. The choke was tight and Shamhalaev never tapped, but he did go to sleep. The end came at 2:38 of the first round, with Curran successfully defending his featherweight title for the second time.
The ‘next one’ will be a familiar face to Curran. “I can’t wait to face Daniel Straus in a rematch,” Curran said.
Curran and Straus did battle at XFO 29 in April, 2009, and Curran finished Straus for his first knockout as a pro. Curran had just six pro bouts under his belt at that time, Straus had just five.
The win over Shamhalaev was Curran’s fifth straight win, and his ninth in Bellator, the most of any fighter in Bellator history.
“Thanks for Shahbulat and taking the fight on short notice. This was a big opportunity for him and I thank him for stepping up to the fight. Thank you Bjorn and Bellator for keeping me busy in the cage and continuing to allow me to develop as a fighter,” Curran said.
by Matt Lo Cascio
It isn’t easy trying to rehab injuries, stay in fighting shape, own a gym, teach classes and coach pro and amateur fighters.
“I need a vacation,” Jeff Curran joked.
Curran has a lot on his plate these days, and that’s just how he likes it. There’s no slowing down for the 35-year-old, and he says he is finally healthy enough to get back in the cage. He will likely make his return, and flyweight debut, on May 18 for the XFO.
Curran couldn’t reveal his opponent, but he did tell us that the fighter had agreed to fight him on an earlier date, so he hopes to have an announcement soon. Curran was scheduled to fight Tachi Palace vet Dustin Ortiz at last year’s XFO Outdoor War but had to withdraw due to hand injuries. Ortiz has since signed with the RFA, so Curran will have a different opponent.
Meanwhile, Curran is getting four other Team Curran fighters ready for big fights, not to mention a number of fighters for XFO 47 on March 29.
One of those fighters is Bart Palaszewski, who will fight Cole Miller at the TUF 17 Finale on April 13. Palaszewski left the team for a spell, but he is back under the Team Curran banner.
“Bart is 100% with Team Curran,” Curran said. “We worked out some things that were long overdue and he is refocused with the team more than ever. I think Bart vs. Cole is an awesome match-up. Bart is hard to submit and a dangerous knockout fighter. Not to mention he has a solid submission game himself being a BJJ black belt under me.”
About a week before that fight is the Bellator featherweight championship match, where cousin Pat Curran will defend his title against Shahbulat Shamhalaev, who replaces the injured Daniel Straus. The training camp was thrown a curveball when Straus had to withdraw from the bout. Pat Curran’s first career knockout came against Straus back at XFO 29, but Jeff isn’t concerned about the change.
“I think it holds a different challenge than Straus, but it falls into our advantage and gives us a very good vision of a game-plan. Pat is ready to fight anyone they send us.”
Felice Herrig will fight Heather Clark in Tampa at Bellator 94, and Joey Diehl recently signed to fight Eric Moell on April 19 for the XFC on AXStv.
“We’re excited about Diehl’s fight. He was a replacement and gets a chance to prove he is who we all know he can be. March 28 – May 18 is action-packed busy with fights for Team Curran,” Curran said.
That much-needed vacation? It will have to wait.
Pulling no punches, Dana White goes into deeper detail about the falling out with Randy Couture, as well as what the future holds for Ryan Couture in the UFC in this video from Middle Easy. He also has unkind words for Frank Shamrock.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Will Brooks ran his record to a perfect 9-0 and advanced to the semifinals of the Bellator lightweight tournament Thursday night after dominating Ricardo Tirloni for three rounds. It was a runaway win for Brooks, taking the victory via unanimous decision, scored 30-27 on all three judges’ cards.
Brooks was emotional in his post-fight interview with analyst Jimmy Smith. When asked how important it was to win in front of adoptive dad Michael Jakolat after dedicating the fight to the memory of his adoptive mom, Brooks choked up and needed some time to gather himself before answering.
“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m just happy to be here. I’m just happy to get an opportunity. I’ve been working my butt off for all this. Everybody’s just been sacrificing a lot for me to do what I do and I’m just glad I can come out here and make them proud,” Brooks said.
Brooks had his way with Tirloni in every aspect of the fight. He was clearly the more effective striker and used his stellar wrestling to repeatedly take Tirloni down. Brooks tempted fate and entered Tirloni’s guard on several occasions, but he was able to maintain top position and do damage to the BJJ specialist.
Tirloni was able to apply some holds that seemed to be airtight, but Brooks was able to escape. He survived guillotine and triangle attempts, as well as a nasty knee that landed below the belt.
After Brooks took Tirloni to the ground with a power double-leg to start round two, a scramble ensued and Tirloni threw a knee that caught Brooks right on the cup. Brooks recovered and continued to dominate the fight.
The performance solidifies Brooks as one of the top prospects in MMA. He went 6-0 to begin his career here in Chicago, with all six fights ending in a TKO or submission win.
Last August, Brooks ventured out of state for the first time and fought ‘The Ultimate fighter’ vet Drew Dober. Brooks went to the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his career and earned a unanimous decision victory over Dober.
Brooks popped into the national spotlight after his New Year’s Eve win at DREAM 18 over Satoru Kitaoka. He stopped Kitaoka — a veteran of over 50 pro fights — in the second round.
“Remember the name Will Brooks!”, said Mauro Ranallo, who called the action for that fight.
“I will not forget that name, that guy put on a clinic here on how to defeat a leg-lock monster,” added analyst Stephen Quadros.
Brooks moves on to the semifinal round of the lightweight tournament and will face Saad Awad, who needed just :31 to knock out Guillaume DeLorenzi in his opening round match.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Pat Curran picked apart Patricio Pitbull over five rounds on Thursday night to successfully retain his Bellator featherweight title via split decision. Two judges scored it 48-47 for Curran (18-4), who was making the first defense of the title he took from Joe Warren in Indiana last year.
Curran started a bit slow against the challenger, but his pace and accuracy improved with each round. He used the first round like a radar, gathering information about his opponent and formulating a plan.
“He wont be baited. Pat Curran content to counterpunch so far,” said analyst Jimmy Smith. Smith gave the first round to Pitbull due to the Brazilian being the busier fighter.
The action picked up in round two with Curran getting the better of the exchanges. Curran landed a knee and Pitbull waved him on. Curran then landed a loud head kick on the side of Pitbull’s face, but Pitbull just smiled.
Still, the blows were connecting and Pitbull’s face was starting to swell and show damage. Blood started to drip from his nose with about 1:30 left in the second round, a round that was clearly won by the champion.
The third round was a bit of a stalemate with neither fighter doing much damage nor commanding the cage. Smith scored that round for Pitbull.
While Curran may have lost the third round, he was certainly the fresher fighter entering the championship rounds. It was the second time in Curran’s career going past the third round, having gone all five rounds in his lightweight championship bout with Eddie Alvarez in 2011. This was Pitbull’s first time past three rounds.
A Curran right hand stunned Pitbull with four minutes left in the fourth, and that seemed to ignite the champion. “I think that gave him some guts, he’s turning it on a little bit,” Smith said.
Turn it on he did. Curran increased his output and accurately battered the challenger, Pitbull’s face showing the damage. Pitbull was bleeding under the eyes and from his nose, and the swelling was disfiguring. Curran clearly had taken control of the bout, with Pitbull not only damaged but also showing signs of fatigue. Curran’s energy did not wane at all during the fight, and if anything it increased after he landed the right hand that changed the momentum of the bout.
Curran continued to land combos to both the body and head of Pitbull in the final round. Pitbull mounted a last-ditch effort near the end of the round, but Curran defended well and was never hurt.
Curran didn’t have too much to say in a post-fight interview with Smith. “I hope you guys enjoyed it — on to the next,” Curran said.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney wrapped the belt around Curran’s waist then offered some high praise for his champion. “Spectacular performance, you’re one of the greatest featherweights on the face of the earth.”
As informed by the site www.casinomagasinet.com , Mixed Martial Arts promotion Bellator and the WinStar World Casino Oklahoma have teamed up to make a New Year’s resolution that will lift you right out of the post-holiday gloom! 2013 will see three Bellator events, which are televised live nationally and internationally, held and produced at the popular WinStar casino resort on the Oklahoma-Texas state line.
January 24th will see the new and exclusive partnership’s official launch when the reigning, undefeated welterweight champion Ben “Funky” Askren takes on French hopeful Karl “Psycho” Amoussou in the headline world title bout. Live from WinStar World Casino this will air on Spike TV.
The main event starts at 10pm EST, but you should make sure you tune in early for the preliminary card. Oklahoma’s favorite MMA son “King Mo” Lawal will make his Bellator debut, battling it out with the ever dangerous Przemyslaw Mysiala in a Bellator light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal match.
Free live streaming on Spike.com starts at 8pm but if you want to celebrate this exciting partnership in style come see it live! Tickets from just $45 can be purchased online from Ticketmaster.com or directly from the casino’s box office. Especially if you are located on the Dallas-Fort Worth area, this is a great opportunity to take the short hour drive north and treat yourself to a few days away off.
Seeing a Bellator MMA tournament at WinStar World Casino live is the perfect reason for a short trip to that place. You can enjoy the excitement of the 27-hole golf course designed by former PGA Tour Pro, D.A. Weibring, relax at the spa and retreat to the comfort of one of the 395 luxurious hotel rooms to get yourself in the mood for the main event.
WinStar World’s Global Event Center with its 3,400 seats is a sight to see at any time but hosting the first event of the new MMA promotion partnership with Bellator, you will see it at its very best!
WinStar World Casino’s assistant general manager Michael McEwan and CEO and Chairman of Bellator, Bjorn Rebney were both excited to announce the partnership between their operations. “As one of the most prestigious resorts in the world, we were excited at the opportunity to bring Bellator to the Chicksaw Nation who runs this casino” said Rebney. And McEwan promised that visitors and viewers will be impressed with the high level of fights Bellator MMA will bring to WinStar.
Spike TV, the home for MMA, and the Spanish language channel mun2 which broadcast the Bellator events live and are also looking forward to joining the new corporation in Oklahoma.
Bellator’s tournament-based MMA organization is already the largest of its kind in the US. Focusing on one big fight for the launch of their new venture with WinStar Casino however, the press was quick to ask if Bellator was now challenging general MMA market leader Zuffa, owner of UFC and Strikeforce, for the number one spot. But sticking to the company motto, CEO Rebney would only say that in MMA, inside and outside the ring “Title shots are earned, not given”.
What is clear already however is that viewers and patrons alike are in for a right treat to start the New Year when the WinStar-Bellator cooperation launches with Askren vs. Amoussou on January 24th live in Oklahoma and on Spike.
Video of Chicago Fight Team’s Louis Taylor vs. Joe Vedepo at Bellator 84 in Hammond, Indiana on December 14, 2012.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Welcome back, Louis Taylor. It’s safe to say that Chicago fight fans have missed you. Taylor posted a dominant, knockout win over Joe Vedepo at Bellator 84 in Hammond, Indiana on Friday night.
Taylor had fought just twice since his Strikeforce loss to Joe Riggs in August, 2010. But on Friday he looked like the fighter that wowed fans for years at local shows like Adrenaline, TFC, HFC and C3. After Taylor’s Bellator win, there shouldn’t be any prolonged absence from the cage in 2013. Simply put, Louis Taylor is back.
Taylor struck first in the fight with an outside trip that sent Vedepo to the ground, and Taylor quickly took his back. Vedepo was able to get up, but Taylor used the same move to send him right back down.
After a tape malfunction on Taylor’s right glove was corrected, Taylor yet again employed an outside trip to get Vedepo to the ground.
With just less than a minute to go in the first round, Taylor threw a series of body and head combos from inside Vedepo’s half-guard. The third shot to Vedepo’s face — a quick, short right-hand — knocked him out. Instead of piling on the punishment, Taylor postured up and put his arms out to signify to referee Gary Copeland that Vedepo was out. The end came at 4:12.
“Short right-hand, scorched him, and (Taylor) looked at the referee like, “I think this is over,” commentator Jimmy Smith said. “Like a boss, man. Love that!”
Play by play man Sean Wheelock added, “Pure class from Louis Taylor. He knew that Vedepo was unconscious, looked at the referee Gary Copeland to stop the fight and did not throw another punch.”
As to why he didn’t keep throwing shots at Vedepo even though the ref hadn’t stopped the fight, Taylor said, “I knew I had the knockout. That’s all I needed.”
Chicago Fight Team’s Roberto Ramirez predicted this type of performance to Chicago’s MMA writer LJ Tabano earlier this week.
“We have been working with Lou and his overall game especially his footwork and boxing,” said Ramirez. “Our new boxing coach Hector Ramirez (no relation) used to be a coach at Windy City Boxing and has been working with Lou for this fight. In his last loss we saw some things that we needed to work on and I believe there will be a big difference in his overall MMA game come fight night.”
Taylor credited both Hector and Roberto Ramirez in his post-fight interview.
“Luckily I was able to get that right hand over the top, thanks to my boxing instructor Hector Ramirez and Chicago Fight Team,” Taylor said.
Here’s hoping Taylor gets back into the cage early and often when the new year rolls in.